Commuting to London:the top 10 areas to buy a home within 60 minutes of the capital - from Cambridge to Guildford

The best towns and villages within an hour's commute of London offer homebuyers an enviable choice of good-value houses, top schools and fast rail links. We take a look at the pros and cons of moving to ten of the best...

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With commuter routes snaking out of London like a giant, asymmetrical spiders’ web, anyone considering leaving the capital can find themselves suffering from a bad case of choice overload.

Psychologists agree that too many options makes decisions more difficult; and decisions rarely come bigger than a full on life changing relocation.

To help make sense out of where your househunt should at least kick off, here is the second part of Homes and Property’s comprehensive guide to London’s 50 best commuter locations.


What it costs:  An average price of almost £509,000, up 26 per cent in the last two years. Houses cost an average of just over £600,000, while flats cost an average of almost £330,000. Source: Savills.

£750,000: four-bedroom terrace house in Petersfield, Cambridge. Through Haart (01223 787042).

The commute: From 50 minutes to King’s Cross. Annual season ticket: From £5,012.

Top schools: The majority of the city’s schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, with St Albans Catholic Primary and St Bede’s Inter Church School (seniors) amongst those with top marks from the Government’s schools inspector.

Who it would suit: Londoners who don’t want to forsake city life, since Cambridge has a cosmopolitan feel and a really excellent range of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Its student city status gives it a buzz. Parents love its magnificent schools, and the fact that there is less of a waiting list scrum to negotiate than in London.

What Cambridge offers that most other commuter options do not is an excellent range of local jobs. Nick Redmayne, partner at Redmayne Arnold and Harris, said many of his London clients are fully aware of this fact . “Often one person will continue to work back in London and one will get a job locally,” he explained.

Traditionally buyers keen on a short walk to the station look at property in the Tenison Road area and the northern end of Mill Road, where a four bedroom Victorian terrace would cost around £800,000.

The imminent arrival of a new station close to Cambridge Science Park, to the north east of the city, has increased interest in the suburb of Chesterton where a three bedroom 1930s semi would cost from £400,000 to £500,000.

Redmayne is also enthused by the new guided busway (regular buses running along disused rail lines between St Ives and Cambridge). The busway has given villages like Histon, Impington, Swavesey, and Over a direct link to both science park and city centre, and Londoners can therefore live the rural dream, be in the centre of Cambridge in 20 to 30 minutes, and also commute to London with relative ease.

And the downsides? A flick through homes on sale in Cambridge might have you screaming “oh my god these are London prices” – although of course in reality homes in the centre of the city are cheaper than almost anything you’ll find in zones one and two.

Cambridge is overheated with tourists in summer. It is also under pressure to build more homes, leading to protests across the city about increasing urban sprawl. And, after several years of very strong price growth, buyers may not be able to expect similar levels of capital growth in today’s more cautious post-Brexit market.



What it costs: An average price of £502,239, up 29 per cent in the last two years. Houses cost, on average, just over £649,047. Flats come in at almost £292,000. Source: Savills.

£950,000: a four-bedroom house in Pit Farm Road, Guildford. Through Hamptons (01483 660060).

The commute:  From 39 minutes to Waterloo. Annual season tickets cost from £3,360.

Top schools:  Most are highly rated by Ofsted with the youngest pupils especially well catered for. Both Wood Street Infant School and Stoughton Infant School are Ofsted “outstanding”.

Who it would suit: Its potent recipe of good schools, lovely town centre, rapid commute, and gorgeous countryside on the doorstep has rightfully made Guildford one of London’s leading commuter hotspots.

And the downsides? Although the town centre is extremely pretty and has plenty going on there is a slightly smug vibe about Guildford. Don’t expect any edge here, and your neighbours will most likely work in the City. Although you will get more bricks for your money compared to London it is, by commuter belt standards, expensive after two years of impressive price growth.



What it costs:  Average price stands at almost £343,000, up 27 per cent in the last two years. A house costs an average of almost £395,000, whilst an average flat costs just over £270,500. Source: Savills.

£995,000: Set off a private road, this four-bedroom detached family home offers far-reaching views over the Kent countryside. Through Savills (01732 677043).

The commute: From 41 minutes from Charing Cross (or 49 minutes from Cannon Street). An annual season ticket costs £4,060.

Top schools:  Most of Tonbridge’s primary schools get “good” ratings from Ofsted (Woodlands Junior School is “outstanding”) and seniors can try for Kent’s fantastic grammar schools. Worst case scenario for older pupils: a really well regarded non selective secondary.

Who it would suit:  This mediaeval Medway town is often overshadowed by smarter Sevenoaks, but it has a similar affluent feel and streets of good quality Victorian houses in the town centre. The schools are superlative, particularly if you fancy your chances in the competitive race for a grammar school place. Lots to do with a theatre, a couple of sports centre, plenty of sports clubs.

And the downsides?  The high street is a bit uninspiring (locals blame its proximity to Bluewater for stunting the growth of local shops). Too many “brick box” executive homes being built on the fringes.



What it costs:  An average price of just over £215,000, up 21 per cent in the last two years. Houses cost an average of almost £243,000, while flats come in at just over £178,000. Source: Savills.

£1,975,000: Grade II*-listed Great Ruffins at Beacon Hill, Wickham Bishops, was designed andbuilt by London architect Arthur Mackmurdo as his own home in 1904. It has six bedrooms, a three-storey tower, a billiards room and garaging. Call Savills (01245 930107).

The commute: From Witham, the nearest station, which is just over three miles away, trains to Liverpool Street take from 45 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £5,232.

Top schools: No village school but Great Totham Primary, in the neighbouring village, gets a “good” rating from Ofsted. Maltings Academy in Witham, for seniors, is “outstanding”.

Who it would suit: Essex can be a little bit overlooked by commuters, but this quality village between Colchester and Chelmsford is not only an easy commute to London, but highly affordable.

Although it lacks a station and a school neither are far away, and to compensate you have got several useful shops, a couple of pubs, tennis courts, and a library. More than a dozen different clubs run out of the village hall (including one offering regular live jazz nights) so you needn’t feel isolated.

The surrounding countryside is lovely, and you can be at the coast (Bradwell on Sea is particularly nice for days out) within 40 minutes.

And the downsides? Having to drive to the station and on the school run is a pain; the heart of the village isn’t chocolate box.



What it costs: An average home costs almost £415,000, up 13 per cent in two years. An average house costs £433,000 (subs: too small a sample for average flat prices here). Source: Savills.

£2 million: a seven-bedroom house in nearly three acres in Blackberry Lane, backing on to Lingfield Park Racecourse. Through Coles (01342 821101). Commute from the Surrey village of Lingfield to Victoria in about 50 minutes.

The commute: From 50 minutes to Victoria, an annual season ticket cost £3,396.

Top schools: Both Lingfield’s state primaries (Lingfield and Dormandsland) are rated “good” by Ofsted. Seniors can travel to the outstanding Imberthorne School, East Grinstead, four miles away.

Who it would suit: Those who love open countryside, since it is a great staging point for the High Weald Area of Outstanding National Beauty. Its eponymous racetrack makes for a really fun day out. It is a great option for those who want a village lifestyle that isn’t too sleepy.

Lingfield is a friendly sort of place, and has enough going on (restaurants, a couple of pubs, sports clubs) to stop you feeling isolated.

And the downsides? Although there are some gorgeous rambling country piles on the village outskirts (and some delicious Tudor-era buildings, mostly in public or community use) the heart of Lingfield has a shortage of the kind of gorgeous period homes most London exiles yearn for.

There can be slight aircraft noise from Gatwick Airport, but nothing that would shock a Londoner.

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